It’s not always plane sailing in business. The ‘big dogs’ may look like faceless, profit-making machines *cough Apple*, but behind every company (and we mean EVERY company), there’s always a challenge (or 12) to overcome (regardless of the scale).
2017 certainly hasn’t been a walk in the park for one of aviation’s ‘big dogs’. Ryanair, one of Europe’s biggest airlines, has faced many woes this calendar year. The Irish carrier has been confronted with complaints from both staff (due to working conditions) and passengers (flight cancellations make for 700,000 miserable customers). Adding to their troubles were industrial action, law suits, malfunctioning aircrafts, potentially false accusations… we could go on. But even with all the negative press, Ryanair seems to be ending the year on a high. The Telegraph reports the budget airline is set for a “record year” in 2017; Ryanair carried 117 million customers in 2016, but this year they could break the 140m mark. With stats like that, they must be doing something right, right? It can’t all be down to cheap flights, surely?
Battling Back from the Latest Blip
Ryanair’s most recent challenge was the possibility of a staff strike just before Christmas. Up to 117 of their Dublin-based pilots said they would strike for one day on Wednesday, 20th December (2017) following a dispute about their lack of union representation. Any walk out would have severely affected flights, the Guardian said.
In a bid to stop the strike, Ryanair agreed (for the first time in 33 years) to recognise unions. Previously, the carrier had refused to engage with unions, opting to deal with staff concerns directly themselves. However, the airline has now written to several pilot unions in Ireland (and several other countries) with the intention of establishing them (the unions) as the official representative bodies for their flight crew (starting in the new year).
Ryanair’s chief executive stated that “putting the needs of [our] customers first, and avoiding disruption to their Christmas flights,” is the reasoning behind the move. The last thing Ryanair want is to have to cancel any more flights this year. As a result of Ryanair’s response to adopt unions, the Irish pilots have now suspended the one-day strike.
“This is a cheap airline, expect nothing else.” – SimpliFlying
This is the message Ryanair and its marmite CEO sends, said a 2014 report by SimpliFlying. The report, titled ‘Ryanair Has a Great Brand. What is the Secret to its Success?’ states that with Ryanair, you get what you pay for: infamous customer service, but cheap seats. A noteworthy takeaway from the report is that other airlines who adopt the same ‘attitude’ when it comes to customer service often “summon public anger” and are critised, yet Ryanair seem to be able to get away with it. The report suggests branding is the reason behind this. Ryanair present a very clear picture of their service: a really cheap price will simply get you from A to B – comfort and kindness not included – and so this is what customers have come to expect. With this in mind, customers’ board flights mentally prepared for all sorts of hurdles, yet more often than not, they do not encounter them. The airline consistently under-promises and over-delivers. Pretty clever when you look at it like that, right?
“If there is one thing airlines must learn from Ryanair, it is not its treatment of passengers, but rather a key element to any conversation: coherence.” – Simpliflying
A Better Budget Airline
Although Ryanair seem to have their branding down to a ‘T’, the budget airline has started changing their policies (hello unions) and improving their customer service; cost may be Ryanair’s biggest draw for customers, but they aren’t resting on those laurels completely. In 2013, the airline reduced their boarding card reissue fee and introduced “quiet flights” to help passengers get a little shut eye. The carrier introduced allocated seating in 2014 which has all but ended the Serengeti wildebeest-inspired stampede of passengers racing for the gates. In the same year, Ryanair launched their ‘Always Getting Better’ programme which has seen a range of customer service and digital enhancements including a new app and website, new uniforms and cabin interiors, and tailored business, leisure and family products. Follow the link to see what Ryanair’s Always Getting Better programme has in store for 2018.
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